This week I created the base stand for the cabinet that I mocked-up last weekend. I was super excited by the way the mock up turned out last weekend but I wanted to add a bit more splay so that it was more noticeable but it’s a delicate balance to make it dramatic but not overdone. By the time I was done I was really happy with how it’s going. so far..
This is probably my most ambitious project yet and at the end of the day I’m not sure if it’s from one influence or another. I started with the hope that it would evoke James Krenov, but over time I’ve added a lot of my own details. Its’ starting to look a bit mid-century modern or like a studio design. But I hope Leonie likes it. It’s fun when the design I started with looks a lot like the end product, only it evolved a bit along the way.
The stand needs to be simple enough that it doesn’t clash with the cabinet, but I can have some fun. The primary design elements are the arched wishbone stretcher of the front and back, and then I wanted to do something interesting with the legs so they have three elements that make them interesting. The legs are splayed and tapered, the tops of the legs go above the base of the cabinet, and each leg is a multi-faceted. In order to cut a multi-faceted leg and keep the joinery manageable you have to start with something predictable to cut the joinery from. It’s much easer to start with two faces that have a 90 degree angle. But from there you can play around. By the end the legs start at the top as a pentagon or 5 facets, then in the middle at the thickest portion of the leg there are actually 7 facets with two facets remaining from the original parallel faces. and at the bottom the leg terminates in a trapezoid or 4 facets.
I started with the same process I used last week but this time the primary wood is walnut and the complementary wood is maple. I started by slicing the walnut into 3/16 inch strips and added one strip of maple in the middle.
The strips were laminated together in the arch form to create two arches. I also did similar laminations for the two straight pieces.
After the glue had set I ran them through the planer to clean them up
Then I used the table saw jig to cut one flat at the top of the arch so that I could glue them to the straight pieces to create the wishbone shape.
I changed the angle of the legs from the mockup to splay out a bit more. I went from about 2 degrees to 4 degrees to get the legs to splay almost 2 inches out from the vertical or 4 inches front and back. I created a jig to capture the legs to the exact angle and set the blade to 45 degrees each way to create a 90 degree reference face sloping at an angle set at 4 degrees.
After setting the jig up I cut two test pieces from pine to check the splay. You can see that the bottom of the legs when combined increase the splay at the bottom by 4 inches.
Now it was time to transfer the template to the actual 1.5 inch thick walnut. I had some 6/4 stock that I have been saving that has an amazingly rich color and a gentle curly figure. I traced the template onto the walnut with a sharpie since walnut is such a dark wood and you need something that stands out. Then I cut to the line on the bandsaw.
The four legs blanks are cut and ready to true up and clean up the two reference faces. One of the keys to this piece is that there will be a lot facets on the legs and it will progressively get harder and harder to clean up the facets as each one cuts a different angle that progressively shrinks the reference facets. So it’s important to clean up each facet when the plane is as large as possible.
The longest facets will be the outside face of each leg. I clamped them all together and cleaned them up progressively with a #62 Lie Nielsen low angle bench plane, then I ran them through the random orbital bit sander from 100, 120 and 180 and finally a card scraper.
The resulting clean faces were amazing. There is a real vibrant curl if you catch it just right.
The inner face of the legs are the next longest facets, but they have a scalloped curve about 2/3 the way up. After cleaning them up the same way with the #62 low angle bench plane, random orbital sander and card scraper I finished with an oscillating drum sander on the drill press on the scallop curve.
Next I took the legs to the tapering and 45 degree jig. This jig not only cuts the compound angle in two passes, but it eliminates the tapering pass.
The resulting top profile of each leg is a monopoly house shaped pentagon. After I get towards the end of the leg preparation I’ll soften the two bottom 90 degree angles to make them a bit more like a balanced pentagon. But the top angle needs to remain at 90 degrees.
To ensure I know exactly where the two wishbone tenons front and back will go I need to clean up the tenons first. To accurately cut the tenons I set up a stop block at the full length to create the full length. Then I adjusted the stop blocks to just under 1 inch and reduced the depth of cut so that in two passes flipped I had a slightly oversized 1/2 inch thick tenon. Then I cleaned up the shoulders. with a backsaw and chisel.
After laying out the location of the mortices I used the jig I created last week to hold the leg accurately while I cut the mortices with the plunge router with a fence and a 1/2 inch bit.
The four completed legs.
Gratuitous glamour shot of the way these legs will look from below. I love the way the facets and the scallop interplay with each other. This piece is mostly right angles so it’s nice to put a few different elements in there to create a bit of interest and tension while still keeping the overall form clean and simple.
Lot’s of notes ensure that I don’t get confused during glue-up.
On Sunday I chopped out the sixteen (16) mortices.
I wanted to add a detail to the top of each leg so that it doesn’t just terminate in a 90 degree angle. So I decided to put a 15 degree slant that slopes into the center of the cabinet. I screwed a board down to the radial arms saw table at 15 degrees and a stop block so they all came out consistently.
In order to add some some feature to the legs so that they weren’t just a plain rectangular profile I wanted to make the pentagon a little more symmetrical and less like a monopoly house in profile. To do this I set the table saw to 13 degrees and gently ran the legs through in progressively narrower passes until the edges just touched to create the pentagon.
To clean up the saw marks I reverted to progressively finer sandpaper from 100, 120 and finely 150 grit in a human powered stroke sander glued to blocks of MDF. Then it was time to glue up the legs. I started with the longer front and back faces. I do love the arch and splay of the legs in profile.
And then after the first two front and back faces were dry I cut the simpler side stretchers and completed the glue up. I laid out the leg placement on a piece of MDF so that everything would come up completely square once the clamps were all in place.
The end result turned out exactly how I was hoping.
Next week I’ll go back to the cabinet and work on the door and hopefully the handles.